Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on December 28th, 2003
Drifter John Garfield arrives at a filling station which advertises “Man Wanted” (a sign to beinterpreted in more than one sense). The proprietor is the jovial but cheap and aging CecilKellaway, and his wife is bombshell Lana Turner. Garfield and Turner fall in love, and beforelong, they’re plotting the murder of Kellaway.
To say more would be unfair — this is a film that is best experienced cold, so you can be hitby the twists and turns of the plot. I will …ay that the plot is hatched barely a quarter of the wayinto the movie. Not all the twists are equally well executed, and the superheated atmosphere isn’talways perfectly sustained. On the other hand, you have Hume Cronyn’s defence lawyer comingvery close to stealing the show (and he is the clear inspiration for Tony Shalhoub’s character inthe Coens’ The Man Who Wasn’t There). In sum, superb entertainment, and a mightyfine film noir.
The audio is mono, and is solid, but not perfect (though we must remember this is a 1946film). The music sounds fine, and there is very little hiss, but there is a little bit of buzz on thedialogue now and then.
The black and white is nice, and the picture is sharp. There is also, unfortunately, some veryvisible damage. Beyond the grain, which gets better, there is a vertical scratch on the print thathangs around for about the length of a reel. The picture is eminently watchable, but a thoroughrestoration has yet to be done.
The main extra is an hour-long documentary “The John Garfield Story,” narrated by hisdaughter and featuring tributes from all sorts of luminaries. The tale is both interesting andheartbreaking, given Garfield’s life was destroyed by the monstrous excesses of the McCarthywitch hunts. There is not that much on the disc, though, that has to deal with the movie itself.Author Richard Jewell gives us a good introduction, but this is only 5 minutes long, and leavesus hungry for more. The other extras are a neat gallery of behind-the-scenes and publicity stills,and trailers for the movie and its 1981 remake with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange. Themenu’s main page is scored.
The fact that in 1946 this movie was an MGM release was very strange (not the kind of filmthat glossy studio specialized in, not by a long shot). Now that it appears under the Warner label(which specialized in tough guy thrillers), one might almost say that a certain historical hiccuphas been corrected. In any event, a film whose appearance on DVD is very welcome.
Special Features List
- Introduction by Richard Jewell
- “The John Garfield Story” Documentary
- Still Gallery